Playing a key role in the Falklands War, the Lynx helicopter offered protection to the Royal Navy and troop ships from the threat of submarines and other vessels. The craft also set a world speed record for a helicopter in 1986.
Recognised as one of the major players in the Falklands conflict, the Lynx helicopter may not have enjoyed the fanfare surrounding the Sea King helicopters, which tended to do the ‘heavy’ work, but its role as a protector was vital. First taking to the skies in March 1971, the Lynx helicopter was used throughout the Falklands War to protect requisitioned ships and the Royal Navy from vessels including submarines.
The Army and Navy first began making use of the Lynx in 1977, thanks to their reliability and speed. Indeed, the early Lynx models topped any other helicopter in terms of speed, smashing numerous records and in 1986, a modified craft achieved a breath-taking speed just shy of 250mph, breaking the helicopter world record speed.
Primarily, the Lynx helicopters were used in an anti-submarine role during the Falklands conflict. The Task Force commanders were fearful of the threat of submarines owned by the Argentine Navy, despite the fact that they did in fact have an extremely small tally of useable submarines.
The Lynx HMA.2 helicopters – which had a two or three-man crew consisting of pilot, observer and aircrew person - were utilised to detect and destroy any submarine that was seen closing in from the enemy side. These crafts were also able to see off any surface shipping that was seen coming close to the Task Force, due to its on-board supply of Sea Skua missiles. These helicopters were really put to the test for the first time during the Falklands conflict and they proved that they were more than capable of doing their job well.
Just three Lynx craft were lost during the conflict, following the loss of the ships on which they were based, the Atlantic Conveyor, the Coventry and the Ardent. None of the helicopters were lost as a result of faults of malfunctions, proving once again their reliability when it counted the most.
The Royal Navy is waiting on a new modernised version of the Lynx helicopter which is rumoured to be due out in the near future.
See also: The Wessex Helicopter
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